Tue, Feb 28, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Chinese reporters complain of tight media restrictions

Staff Writer, with CNA

A Chinese reporter based in Taiwan has complained that the rules on the length of time Chinese reporters can stay in Taiwan are so stringent that he dare not make a visit home to see a sick family member within the duration of his three-month work permit. His work permit is valid only for three months on a single-entry visa and if he requests a second entry within that period, he must apply for a new visa, which can take days or even weeks.

Inconveniences like these have long existed for reporters on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, but both governments have ignored the problem.

Sources said Taiwan blames China for the delay in allowing media outlets to establish offices in each other’s territories because China wants to control the flow of information across the Taiwan Strait.

At present, journalists from China and Taiwan are allowed to cover stories in each other’s countries in their private capacities, but the media organizations that hire them cannot set up offices on the other side of the Strait.

Chinese journalists have long complained that many of their stories are delayed because they cannot stay in Taiwan for more than six months (their three-month stays can be extended only once).

Maintaining continuity in their work is extremely difficult because they are rotated so frequently. The few contacts they are able to establish are often disrupted by the frequent postings.

To meet their work requirements, most Chinese reporters spend more than NT$100,000 a month staying in expensive hotels in downtown Taipei, which is a heavy burden for their employers.

When they pursue a story outside of Taipei for days at a time, they have to leave their luggage at these hotels to save on travel costs, which is also a great inconvenience.

Chinese reporters said that many of the unnecessary hindrances to their work could be avoided if they were allowed to work here for two full years on a multi-entry visa. This could also strengthen their reportage of Taiwanese affairs.

They said that because both sides of the Strait have entered a new era of “grand exchanges,” the media has an extra duty to lead by giving their readers more in-depth and significant reports.

“The authorities in charge of media management should not remain untouched by the new reality by sticking to their old concepts and stances,” said one, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

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